Virgin Healthcare-Richard Branson Buys into Assura, NHS Surgeries
Shares in the company, the Assura Group, immediately fell in value by an eighth. The deal appears to have been put together by Sir Richard's daughter Dr. Holly Branson and will result in a new business called Virgin Healthcare.
Asura reported pre-tax loss of £4.4 million to September last year. Branson clearly sees a potential growth market here in the UK for the type of high street walk-in free at point of contact privately run NHS facility. If he can make it work he could be set up for the roll out of Barrack Obama's US health care plans which could see at least some free health care for millions of Americans.
Branson is rich enough to ride the initial losses that setting up such new models both in the UK and abroad might initially incur. Assura already have 30 General Practitioner Surgeries set up serving more than 3 million patients and employing 1,500 GPs (MDs).
“For us, this is the culmination of what has probably been five years of knowing we wanted to be in this space but really not finding the right entry point,” said Gordon McCallum, chief executive of Virgin Management.
Shares in Assura tumbled 6½p to 45p, a decline of 12.62 per cent, once the terms of the deal became known. Virgin is paying £4 million to Assura, which will loan the money back to the business in exchange for the remaining 24.9 per cent stake in it. Assura plans to concentrate on its more profitable pharmacy and property businesses.
Virgin Group is today pleased to announce that it has realised a long-held ambition to enter the healthcare sector with the acquisition of a 75.1% share-holding in Assura Medical, a provider of primary healthcare services. Assura will retain a significant minority shareholding in this new partnership. Richard Burrell, Chief Executive of Assura, will join the Board of Virgin Healthcare alongside Patrick McCall and Gaurav Batra from Virgin Group.
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Loughborough, Leicestershire, United Kingdom